27 January 2002

Findings of the inquiry into the demolition of the buildings in Rafah
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

The findings of the inquiry into the demolition of the buildings in Rafah on January 10, 2002 were presented to the Chief of the IDF General Staff. The Chief of the IDF General Staff accepted the findings of the inquiry held in the Southern Command:

  • There was a clear necessity for the operation.
  • The number of buildings demolished in the operation is 21. Another building, under which a tunnel for smuggling was found, was demolished two nights later.
  • Based upon the IDF observations in previous months, plus the inquiry held by the forces in the field and additional intelligence data, it was determined that the buildings demolished had not been inhabited for a number of months. According to aerial photographs taken a short time before the operation, nearly half of the houses were roofless before the operation took place.
  • The weapons smuggled through the tunnels underneath the houses are used for terrorist attacks and pose a threat to the security of the citizens of Israel.
  • The demolition of the buildings near the border markedly improves the capabilities of IDF soldiers to handle such threats.
  • No Palestinians were injured in the course of the operation and no items indicating people were living in those houses were found. This raises a serious question as to the Palestinian claim that the houses were inhabited.
  • It is to be stressed that the Palestinians carried out terrorist attacks from the area in question, and these attacks continue daily to the present.

    The IDF holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the terror attacks and the weapons smuggling in the region. Despite many warnings of the IDF to the Palestinian Authority to stop this activity, both verbally and in writing, the Palestinian Authority did nothing to stop it. It was stressed to the Palestinians that if the terrorist attacks continued it would leave the IDF no choice but to conduct operations to clear the area.

    The territory in question, it must be emphasized, is along the international border established by the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, and has no connection to the conflict with the Palestinians.

    The operation took place under heavy fire from the Palestinians that included small arms fire and the throwing of grenades. The buildings demolished were all in the area defined under complete Israeli jurisdiction and responsibility.

       

     Findings of the inquiry into the demolition of the buildings in Rafah-27-Jan-2002
     Findings of the inquiry into the demolition of the buildings in Rafah-27-Jan-2002
    IDF Spokesman photos of equipment found near one of the tunnels – Jan 12, 2002
     Findings of the inquiry into the demolition of the buildings in Rafah-27-Jan-2002
    PM Sharon on the IDF action in Rafah: Effort to stop smuggling of weapons by the Palestinians – Jan 13, 2002